Art Therapy is a combination of visual communication and psychotherapy. It is practiced by a Master’s level and credentialed Art Therapists.

Art Therapy techniques spur more conversation and expressing feelings through colors and figures. This expression encourages exploration of feelings and emotions through creating or viewing the artwork. Clients explore their feelings of anxiety, anger, frustration, and weakness.  The Art Therapist gains helpful information by what the client creates, and how the client creates. This insight sheds light on the client’s emotional state. This allows the Art Therapist to encourage self-reflection while supporting the healing process.

Art Therapy is found in a variety of settings including clinical and community. It is used during individual, group, and family sessions to increase communication. Clients learn about each other’s feelings and emotions through artistic creation.

Art Therapy helps to resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviors, reduce harmful stress, and achieve personal insight. Art therapy also provides an opportunity to enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of art-making.

(Summarized using text from Ann Krayn’s book “The Art Therapy and the Art of Therapy”, and the American Art Therapy Association website ““)

What is Art Therapy

Definition: Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Skip to: What Does an Art Therapist Do?

The creative process involved in expressing one’s self artistically can help people to resolve issues as well as develop and manage their behaviors and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness.

Anyone can use it, you don’t need to be talented or an artist, and there are professionals that can work with you and delve into the underlying messages communicated through art.

Art therapy can achieve different things for different people. It can be used for counseling by therapists, healing, treatment, rehabilitation, psychotherapy, and in the broad sense of the term, art therapy can be used to massage one’s inner-self in a way that may provide the individual with a deeper understanding of him or herself.

Additional Definitions of Art Therapy

Art therapy, sometimes called creative arts therapy or expressive arts therapy, encourages people to express and understand emotions through artistic expression and through the creative process. From The Free Dictionary

Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses art materials, such as paints, chalk, and markers. Art therapy combines traditional psychotherapeutic theories and techniques with an understanding of the psychological aspects of the creative process, especially the affective properties of the different art materials. From Wikipedia

Art therapy involves the creation of art in order to increase awareness of self and others. This, in turn, may promote personal development, increase coping skills, and enhance cognitive function. It is based on personality theories, human development, psychology, family systems, and art education. Art therapists are trained in both art and psychological therapy. The New Medicine

And from the AATA, the definition of the profession:
Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art-making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development. Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others, cope with symptoms, stress and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities, and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.

Art therapists are professionals trained in both art and therapy. They are knowledgeable about human development, psychological theories, clinical practice, spiritual, multicultural and artistic traditions, and the healing potential of art. They use art in treatment, assessment, and research, and provide consultations to allied professionals. Art therapists work with people of all ages: individuals, couples, families, groups, and communities. They provide services, individually and as part of clinical teams, in settings that include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions; community outreach programs; wellness centers; schools; nursing homes; corporate structures; open studios and independent practices

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Lisa R.W. Richardson
Lisa R.W. RichardsonMental Health Counselor & Art Therapist
Verified Psychology Today 941-882-0590